NFL sellout streaks are practically meaningless except to show fans’ interest when lobbying for a stadium financing, and to avoid blackouts. According to a report from NewsChannel 5 in Nashville, the Titans had a deal with a ticket broker to keep their streak alive and stay on TV.
The report claims that the Titans had an agreement with Florida ticket broker Cole Rubin, in which Rubin received the opportunity to box out the scalping competition on in-demand matchups in order to inflate the tickets’ resale value. In return, Rubin bought blocks of tickets to unsexy games, but those tickets technically being “sold” kept the Titans’ sellout streak going, even if no one was actually filling up LP Field to watch the sadness within. As The Tennessean notes, the Titans could trumpet that sellout streak to get more money when cutting local ad deals.
The report also claims that the Titans fudged their accounting to cover up the deal. They allegedly gave Rubin free tickets to preseason games, which were “written off on the team’s books as donations to the military.”
Ticket manager Marty Collins and assistant Tim Zenner reportedly made the arrangement, while executive vice president Don MacLachlan approved it. All three left the team in February; Collins and Zenner were fired, while MacLachlan resigned.
The Titans acknowledged that they had relationships with ticket brokers, but denied any tax workarounds, saying in a statement that they had paid the tax “on every single ticket we have ever sold since it went into effect in 2009.” The team is conducting an internal investigation, and the NFL plans to review its findings.
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